European Buckthorn

Rhamnus cathartica

Common Name: European buckthorn (a.k.a. Common buckthorn, European waythorn, Rhineberry)
Scientific Name: Rhamnus cathartica
Family: Rhamnaceae
Growth Form: Tree; Can also appear as hedgerow or thicket
Native Range: Europe and Asia
Invasive Range: Southeast Canada and the Northeastern portion of the United States, and stretching as far west as Kansas
Introduction: The European Buckthorn was introduced as an ornamental plant.  It has been spread by birds.
Description: ·Leaves:  opposite and simple, elliptical shape, between 2-6 cm long, 2-5 cm at greatest width. Have fine, rounded teeth,  distinctive pattern of venation, with veins starting closer to the base, and running parallel to the leaf margins

·Twigs:  slender and grey, terminating in scaly buds or spines.  Have thorns.

·Bark: thin, brown outer bark can be peeled off to display red toned inner bark.

·Flowers: flowers in late spring, producing yellow-green, bell-shaped flowers that reach 5 mm in diameter; inflorescences located at the leaf base.  Flowers have 4 petals. 

·Fruit: found in late summer and early autumn, small reddish-black berry, known for bitter pulp.
Threats: In addition to displacing native vegetation, the European Buckthorn is a host for the fungus that causes leaf and crown rust of oats. 
Fun Facts: The European Buckthorn is related to a number of digestive ills.  The fruit has medicinal value as a laxative in small doses.  In larger does it is cathartic (hence the name) and causes stomach cramps. 
Whole Tree
Leaf Glands
English ivy on a tree
English ivy taking over a tree
Branch with leaves and fruit
Branch with leaves and fruit